People come to faith through all sorts of ways. Some are brought to faith through their parents; for others, the influence of a role model or friend is instrumental. At times, the faith is embraced only after a long search for the truth. Then there are those who have to hit "rock bottom" before they really appreciate their need for God.
St. Augustine, the fourth century North African bishop we honor today, required all of these ways before he embraced the faith, as he wrote in his great spiritual autobiography, the Confessions. There was the pleading and constant prayer of his mother, St. Monica; the encouragement and witness of St. Ambrose, his mentor; the different philosophies and religions he tried and then cast aside; and the compelling recognition of his sinfulness and his absolute need for God’s help and grace.
St. Augustine is known and admired for his preaching, his teaching, and his pastoral care. However, it is his faith journey that most people can relate to, because it contains so many elements familiar to our own. His witness is for us one of hope, as it’s a reminder that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future, thanks to the love of Jesus. As Pope Benedict has written, "St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ, and in this way, find the path of life."